Thursday, May 28, 2015
Why We Mishear Lyrics
Scientists say mistakes like this one are actually fueled by our prior knowledge.
It's a phenomenon called "mondegreens," and German researchers confirm that it happens all the time. Dr. Mark Liberman, professor of linguistics and director of the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania explains that when you hear a song, you're getting an input signal that is muddled with background music, rhythms, and syllabification, making it hard for your brain to interpret everything at once.
He tells Yahoo Health, "When the signal is more ambiguous... then more of our perceptions are likely to be invented." The bad news is once you experience a modegreen you're likely to hear the wrong lyrics every time you hear the song. Dr. Andrew Nevins, a linguistics professor at Britain's University College London adds that consonants are typically more confused than vowels, and unstressed syllables are more easily confused than stressed syllables.
This explains why so many people hear the lyric "got a long list of ex-lovers" from the Taylor Swift song "Blank Space" as "all the lonely Starbucks lovers."
Posted 3:11:00 AM